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XtremeTrainer
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 20 Feb 2018
Posts: 89


PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spartacus Maximus wrote:
With or without a belt, one’s skills do not change. With or without a given rank one still has the same qualities, abilities and weaknesses. Ranks, belts, certificates etc are only arbitrary symbols.

Once a martial arts practitioner is honest about that and accepts that there is always something more to improve and someone with more knowledge and skill to share, all ranks are insignificant. Ranks etc have symbolic value only because the recipient values, recognizes and respects the judgment of whoever bestowed it. A rank or belt bought from a random source or an unconfirmed authority is worthless.

Imagine for instance, that a highly skilled martial art practitioner has a high rank with belts and everything from his deceased teacher. Our hypothetical martial artist has all the authentic symbols and they are one of a kind. Unfortunately he has the misfortune of having all these destroyed by an accident. With all documentation of rank and belts gone and unrecoverable, does he not still possess everything his teacher passed on?

If you suddenly loose all the tangible symbols of your training, do you still have what you know? Can you still do everything you were able to do before?


This is basically what I've been saying. Rank is not a physical thing. The belts and certificates and so forth, they're just symbols of the ranks. Earning a rank under a certain instructor means that you've met certain standards set by that instructor and that you've acquired the knowledge and skill to meet those standards. Sure, belts and certificates can be lost or destroyed, in a fire for instance, but that doesn't change the fact that you've earned the rank and that you've got the knowledge and skill that you acquired in order to earn the rank.
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XtremeTrainer
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Joined: 20 Feb 2018
Posts: 89


PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wado Heretic wrote:
Belt and Rank are one in the same.

By that logic I could go to a martial arts store or get on eBay or whatever, buy any color belt I want including a black belt, and put it on and that would mean that I earned the rank that the belt represents and I automatically have all the knowledge and skill that comes with it.

Put it this way, if I were to put on a star would that automatically make me a General in the US Army?
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Wado Heretic
Green Belt
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Joined: 23 May 2014
Posts: 387
Location: United Kingdom, England, Shropshire
Styles: Wado-Ryu , Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu (Kodokan), RyuKyu Kobojutsu

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Context gives these matters meaning. On the Dojo floor the belt should reflect an awarded rank. To go back to the totality of what I stated; it is whether those belts scale to the rank, and if that rank scales effectively to the implied skill.

Outside that context, the belt has no inherent meaning, nor the ranks attached to the belt. If you ask a context specific question, then you have to use context specific logic.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14301
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wado Heretic wrote:
I would argue it depends on the robustness of the individual ranking/belt system. I have found the Judo Belt system to be consistent. After all, to challenge for Shodan you must earn sufficient points through competition play and pass a technical grading where you demonstrate sufficient knowledge of Judo. Similarly, challenging for senior grades requires facing a line-up, and/or a technical grading panel. Yudansha in Judo have had to contend to get that belt; might not demonstrate they are an elite player, but it demonstrates they have fought, and have technical knowledge. Similarly; it was once a tradition in Kyokushinkai and its circle of influence that one fight a line up of the grade you were aiming for. If one made it past the Kyu Grades; they had fought for it. The belts in said systems are largely consistent with the skill development curve.

Now, what I would say is that many systems award grades based on activities that do not directly correlate to fighting ability. Many Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Quán Fǎ, Kenpō, and Gendai Budo Jujutsu schools grade based on the rote memorisation of new Kata/Tàolù/Hyeong, and demonstrations of techniques on compliant partners.

Forms, after the initial hurdle or developing the ability to learn them, do not necessarily reflect progress, barring Forms which introduce more athletically demanding movements. Even then, that only reflects a development of athletic ability. Similarly, the demonstration of techniques on a compliant partner merely reflects knowledge of the final part of the technique; not the ability to apply it under duress, or create opportunities to apply said technique against a resisting attacker.

The above is of course not true of all the dojo/dojang/kwoon and sub-systems of the broad approaches mentioned. Since the 90s, there has been increasing trend towards more alive training approaches in martial arts over all. However, it cannot be said yet that the above issue has at all disappeared. There remains the issue of many rank systems not in fact relating to actual fighting ability.

That is what I feel is the actual essence of this discussion. If someone has a Purple belt and it means Yonkyu in a system; the belt and the rank are one in the same. Now, let us say that purple represented Yonkyu in two different schools, of the same umbrella discipline. In this example, let us say karate. If we took two purple belts, of the same size and relative strength, and had them fight and it was not a competitive bout we would have to question what Yonkyu/Purple means. The rank should indicate a similar level of skill, according to the standards of the school, and if they were of the same size and weight class we can eliminate a simple difference in strength as the determining factor.

What has gone wrong in this scenario? Over saturation of the belt-system, and a rank system which awards abilities not related to fighting skill. Thus, what occurs, is that individual differences determine differences in skill; not the actual standards of the school. If you have too many ranks, awarded too often, then the belts are not reflecting the actual time it takes to improve as a combatant. Similarly; if the belts are being awarded based on factors not relating to fighting ability, then of course the belts do not reflect an individuals growth as a martial artist.

Belt and Rank are one in the same. The issue is what they mean in the context they are seen. Now, do the belts meet the expectations placed on the rank they represent is the real question.

Solid post!!

To the bold type above...

Like you said, content and context must be considered, but the way I was taught, belt and rank are not one in the same.



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MatsuShinshii
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 15 Aug 2016
Posts: 1423
Location: Kentucky
Styles: Machimura Suidi Rokudan, Ryukyu Kenpo, Kobudo, Judo

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wado Heretic wrote:
I would argue it depends on the robustness of the individual ranking/belt system. I have found the Judo Belt system to be consistent. After all, to challenge for Shodan you must earn sufficient points through competition play and pass a technical grading where you demonstrate sufficient knowledge of Judo. Similarly, challenging for senior grades requires facing a line-up, and/or a technical grading panel. Yudansha in Judo have had to contend to get that belt; might not demonstrate they are an elite player, but it demonstrates they have fought, and have technical knowledge. Similarly; it was once a tradition in Kyokushinkai and its circle of influence that one fight a line up of the grade you were aiming for. If one made it past the Kyu Grades; they had fought for it. The belts in said systems are largely consistent with the skill development curve.

Now, what I would say is that many systems award grades based on activities that do not directly correlate to fighting ability. Many Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Quán Fǎ, Kenpō, and Gendai Budo Jujutsu schools grade based on the rote memorisation of new Kata/Tàolù/Hyeong, and demonstrations of techniques on compliant partners.

Forms, after the initial hurdle or developing the ability to learn them, do not necessarily reflect progress, barring Forms which introduce more athletically demanding movements. Even then, that only reflects a development of athletic ability. Similarly, the demonstration of techniques on a compliant partner merely reflects knowledge of the final part of the technique; not the ability to apply it under duress, or create opportunities to apply said technique against a resisting attacker.

The above is of course not true of all the dojo/dojang/kwoon and sub-systems of the broad approaches mentioned. Since the 90s, there has been increasing trend towards more alive training approaches in martial arts over all. However, it cannot be said yet that the above issue has at all disappeared. There remains the issue of many rank systems not in fact relating to actual fighting ability.

That is what I feel is the actual essence of this discussion. If someone has a Purple belt and it means Yonkyu in a system; the belt and the rank are one in the same. Now, let us say that purple represented Yonkyu in two different schools, of the same umbrella discipline. In this example, let us say karate. If we took two purple belts, of the same size and relative strength, and had them fight and it was not a competitive bout we would have to question what Yonkyu/Purple means. The rank should indicate a similar level of skill, according to the standards of the school, and if they were of the same size and weight class we can eliminate a simple difference in strength as the determining factor.

What has gone wrong in this scenario? Over saturation of the belt-system, and a rank system which awards abilities not related to fighting skill. Thus, what occurs, is that individual differences determine differences in skill; not the actual standards of the school. If you have too many ranks, awarded too often, then the belts are not reflecting the actual time it takes to improve as a combatant. Similarly; if the belts are being awarded based on factors not relating to fighting ability, then of course the belts do not reflect an individuals growth as a martial artist.

Belt and Rank are one in the same. The issue is what they mean in the context they are seen. Now, do the belts meet the expectations placed on the rank they represent is the real question.


Well said. Solid points.
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MatsuShinshii
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 15 Aug 2016
Posts: 1423
Location: Kentucky
Styles: Machimura Suidi Rokudan, Ryukyu Kenpo, Kobudo, Judo

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
Wado Heretic wrote:
I would argue it depends on the robustness of the individual ranking/belt system. I have found the Judo Belt system to be consistent. After all, to challenge for Shodan you must earn sufficient points through competition play and pass a technical grading where you demonstrate sufficient knowledge of Judo. Similarly, challenging for senior grades requires facing a line-up, and/or a technical grading panel. Yudansha in Judo have had to contend to get that belt; might not demonstrate they are an elite player, but it demonstrates they have fought, and have technical knowledge. Similarly; it was once a tradition in Kyokushinkai and its circle of influence that one fight a line up of the grade you were aiming for. If one made it past the Kyu Grades; they had fought for it. The belts in said systems are largely consistent with the skill development curve.

Now, what I would say is that many systems award grades based on activities that do not directly correlate to fighting ability. Many Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Quán Fǎ, Kenpō, and Gendai Budo Jujutsu schools grade based on the rote memorisation of new Kata/Tàolù/Hyeong, and demonstrations of techniques on compliant partners.

Forms, after the initial hurdle or developing the ability to learn them, do not necessarily reflect progress, barring Forms which introduce more athletically demanding movements. Even then, that only reflects a development of athletic ability. Similarly, the demonstration of techniques on a compliant partner merely reflects knowledge of the final part of the technique; not the ability to apply it under duress, or create opportunities to apply said technique against a resisting attacker.

The above is of course not true of all the dojo/dojang/kwoon and sub-systems of the broad approaches mentioned. Since the 90s, there has been increasing trend towards more alive training approaches in martial arts over all. However, it cannot be said yet that the above issue has at all disappeared. There remains the issue of many rank systems not in fact relating to actual fighting ability.

That is what I feel is the actual essence of this discussion. If someone has a Purple belt and it means Yonkyu in a system; the belt and the rank are one in the same. Now, let us say that purple represented Yonkyu in two different schools, of the same umbrella discipline. In this example, let us say karate. If we took two purple belts, of the same size and relative strength, and had them fight and it was not a competitive bout we would have to question what Yonkyu/Purple means. The rank should indicate a similar level of skill, according to the standards of the school, and if they were of the same size and weight class we can eliminate a simple difference in strength as the determining factor.

What has gone wrong in this scenario? Over saturation of the belt-system, and a rank system which awards abilities not related to fighting skill. Thus, what occurs, is that individual differences determine differences in skill; not the actual standards of the school. If you have too many ranks, awarded too often, then the belts are not reflecting the actual time it takes to improve as a combatant. Similarly; if the belts are being awarded based on factors not relating to fighting ability, then of course the belts do not reflect an individuals growth as a martial artist.

Belt and Rank are one in the same. The issue is what they mean in the context they are seen. Now, do the belts meet the expectations placed on the rank they represent is the real question.

Solid post!!

To the bold type above...

Like you said, content and context must be considered, but the way I was taught, belt and rank are not one in the same.




I second that.
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XtremeTrainer
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 20 Feb 2018
Posts: 89


PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
Wado Heretic wrote:
I would argue it depends on the robustness of the individual ranking/belt system. I have found the Judo Belt system to be consistent. After all, to challenge for Shodan you must earn sufficient points through competition play and pass a technical grading where you demonstrate sufficient knowledge of Judo. Similarly, challenging for senior grades requires facing a line-up, and/or a technical grading panel. Yudansha in Judo have had to contend to get that belt; might not demonstrate they are an elite player, but it demonstrates they have fought, and have technical knowledge. Similarly; it was once a tradition in Kyokushinkai and its circle of influence that one fight a line up of the grade you were aiming for. If one made it past the Kyu Grades; they had fought for it. The belts in said systems are largely consistent with the skill development curve.

Now, what I would say is that many systems award grades based on activities that do not directly correlate to fighting ability. Many Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Quán Fǎ, Kenpō, and Gendai Budo Jujutsu schools grade based on the rote memorisation of new Kata/Tàolù/Hyeong, and demonstrations of techniques on compliant partners.

Forms, after the initial hurdle or developing the ability to learn them, do not necessarily reflect progress, barring Forms which introduce more athletically demanding movements. Even then, that only reflects a development of athletic ability. Similarly, the demonstration of techniques on a compliant partner merely reflects knowledge of the final part of the technique; not the ability to apply it under duress, or create opportunities to apply said technique against a resisting attacker.

The above is of course not true of all the dojo/dojang/kwoon and sub-systems of the broad approaches mentioned. Since the 90s, there has been increasing trend towards more alive training approaches in martial arts over all. However, it cannot be said yet that the above issue has at all disappeared. There remains the issue of many rank systems not in fact relating to actual fighting ability.

That is what I feel is the actual essence of this discussion. If someone has a Purple belt and it means Yonkyu in a system; the belt and the rank are one in the same. Now, let us say that purple represented Yonkyu in two different schools, of the same umbrella discipline. In this example, let us say karate. If we took two purple belts, of the same size and relative strength, and had them fight and it was not a competitive bout we would have to question what Yonkyu/Purple means. The rank should indicate a similar level of skill, according to the standards of the school, and if they were of the same size and weight class we can eliminate a simple difference in strength as the determining factor.

What has gone wrong in this scenario? Over saturation of the belt-system, and a rank system which awards abilities not related to fighting skill. Thus, what occurs, is that individual differences determine differences in skill; not the actual standards of the school. If you have too many ranks, awarded too often, then the belts are not reflecting the actual time it takes to improve as a combatant. Similarly; if the belts are being awarded based on factors not relating to fighting ability, then of course the belts do not reflect an individuals growth as a martial artist.

Belt and Rank are one in the same. The issue is what they mean in the context they are seen. Now, do the belts meet the expectations placed on the rank they represent is the real question.

Solid post!!

To the bold type above...

Like you said, content and context must be considered, but the way I was taught, belt and rank are not one in the same.




To the bold type above, I would think most if not all people who train in the martial arts are taught that belt and rank are not the same, I don't see why anybody would think they're the same.

The fact of the matter is though, that sometimes the two things are confused. For instance, lets say somebody says, "I want to get a black belt," you could give them websites and/or tell them about martial arts stores where they can go and buy a black belt. If, on the other hand, somebody says, "I want to earn the rank of 1st Dan," that is a different matter. Earning the rank of 1st Dan is not something you can do by buying it from a store or a website. The way the two things are often confused, at least from my observations, is that somebody will say the former and they will really mean the latter.
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aurik
Yellow Belt
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Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 40
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My sensei once asked my son’s class, “Are your belts for you or for me?” All of the kids thought the belts were for themselves, but what my sensei said was that they were for HIM. They reminded him where in the curriculum each student is, and what he should be focusing his instruction on for them. I don’t think any of the kids really got it, but I thought it was a kinda profound.
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Lupin1
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 15 Dec 2009
Posts: 1603
Location: NH USA
Styles: Isshinryu

PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

aurik wrote:
My sensei once asked my son’s class, “Are your belts for you or for me?” All of the kids thought the belts were for themselves, but what my sensei said was that they were for HIM. They reminded him where in the curriculum each student is, and what he should be focusing his instruction on for them. I don’t think any of the kids really got it, but I thought it was a kinda profound.


I'd say it's a little of both. Belts work well to help the instructor know generally where each student is at a glance. But, as a former school teacher, I can say a good teacher should know generally where each of his students is without that physical reminder. If he can't remember that without a belt, he has too many students and each one most likely isn't getting the attention they deserve.

Belts are also usefully as extrinsic motivation tools. Even though intrinsic motivation (the motivation that comes from inside of us) is much better and more sought after than extrinsic motivation (the motivation that comes from external things like belts), it can be harder to sustain intrinsic motivation-- especially for kids. So it can be a powerful motivational tool for them.

It's also a way of teaching them to set and work for smaller goals. For adults, we can set goals based on performance-- "learn this kata" or "develop more power in my basic straight punch". But those types of goals are a bit abstract for kids, so "get to yellow belt" is something they can wrap their heads around a little easier. I know my school uses more belts for kids than they do for adults for this reason. Adults have five belts before Shodan. Kids have ten including three levels of junior black. It breaks down the goals into smaller chunks for them and keeps them motivated.

Basically what I'm saying is there's nothing wrong with belts. There's been a trend lately of people dismissing belts as useless or even harmful because they are extrinsic vs intrinsic motivators and some schools have misused the belt system to make more money. But really they're a very useful tool for motivation and goal setting and helpful for both the instructors and the students.
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JR 137
KF Sempai
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Joined: 10 May 2015
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

aurik wrote:
My sensei once asked my son’s class, “Are your belts for you or for me?” All of the kids thought the belts were for themselves, but what my sensei said was that they were for HIM. They reminded him where in the curriculum each student is, and what he should be focusing his instruction on for them. I don’t think any of the kids really got it, but I thought it was a kinda profound.


I was helping run a brown belt test for the teenage group one time. The head of our organization (my previous organization) was 6th dan. When the test was over he was talking about rank and what does it really mean and all that stuff, especially since they were nearing black belt. He had one kid take off his belt and wear his 6th dan belt. He had him do a kata in front of everyone while wearing it. He asked “what’s the difference between when he was wearing his brown belt and when he was wearing a 6th dan belt?” Then he said “I can promote you all to my rank right now. I can promote you even higher if I want to. But what are you going to do with it, wave it in someone’s face? Do you think that’s going to scare people off? Do you think it’s going to get you any respect? Is it going to get you anything at all?”

He finished with “while yes it’s more than ‘just another belt’ at the end of the day, it’s just another belt. You’ve got to genuinely make it more than that; no one else do that for you.”

The kids were old enough to get what he was saying. That one stuck with me more than just about anything else.
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